An Aurora Adventure in Anchorage, Alaska

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Three Amazing Alaskan Vacations To Choose From!

Summer Trips To Alaska
Grizzlies & Glaciers Tour

Winter Trips To Alaska
See The Northern Lights

Summer Trips To Alaska
Denali Discovery Adventure

Denali Adventure in Alaska Vacation
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When Are The Northern Lights Most Visible In Alaska?

The Northern Lights are an incredible natural phenomenon that occur in the nighttime sky when conditions are just right. This amazing occurrence is triggered by solar activity. However, in order to see the Northern Lights in Alaska, you need to have clear, dark skies and be far away from the light pollution of a city. In fact, this phenomenon is often so difficult to predict that the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska has created an online Aurora Tracker to help track the Northern Lights!

Many people want to know when the Northern Lights are most visible in Alaska so they can plan an aurora-viewing trip. Aurora Season in Alaska takes place between the months of August and April. Displays of the Northern Lights tend to become stronger around the equinox months of September and March because the Earth’s tilt in relation to the sun means that the magnetic field of the Earth and the solar winds are in sync. Aurora activity is very strong during the month of March for this reason, as well as the fact that there is a higher chance of clear skies and dry weather during the spring months.

aurora borealis in Alaska

Aurora Viewing in Anchorage

When can you see the Northern Lights in Anchorage, Alaska? The answer is simple – any time during Aurora Season, if the conditions are right! However, Anchorage has one advantage over coastal locations – because it is located in Alaska’s interior region, there are statistically more clear nights for aurora viewing vs. coastal regions. Coastal areas tend to have more moisture in the air, which causes overcast weather and creates conditions that are not favorable for Northern Lights viewing.

This means Anchorage is a great place to set up basecamp to chase the aurora. In addition to the documented aurora activity, there are many great locations to view the Northern Lights that are easily accessible from the city. And, as an added bonus, there are many tour operators with expert guides who have an almost-magical sixth sense for spotting this amazing phenomenon. Not to mention that Anchorage during the day (if you don’t need a nap after your aurora adventures) is full of fun activities for everyone in the family!

The Best Places To See The Northern Lights In Anchorage

Now that we’ve answered the question “is the aurora borealis visible in Alaska,” it’s important to know WHERE to set yourself up for a great aurora viewing experience. Anchorage is a great place to see the Northern Lights, especially during the month of March – when the Northern Lights are most visible in Alaska. Here are a few of the most easily accessible places to see the Aurora Borealis in or around Anchorage:

  • The Downtown Viewpoint – this is a favorite viewing spot that features an unobstructed view of the Northern sky without much light pollution from the city. It’s located off East Northern Lights Boulevard (near Earthquake Park) and is very popular with solo travelers as well as guided tours.
  • Glen Alps Overlook – Located at the Glen Alps trailhead in Chugach State Park, this may be the best place to search the sky for the Northern Lights in Anchorage! The overlook sits at 2,200 feet of elevation and offers an amazing view of the Anchorage Bowl and five mountain ranges.
  • Palmer Hays Flats – this natural area is located in the 28,800-acre Palmer Hays Flats Game Refuge near the Knik Arm. What makes this location so special is a 30-foot-high wildlife observation tower that faces west and north, and also doubles as a very popular spot for aurora seekers to scan the night sky!
  • Eklutna Lake Road – this paved road takes visitors into Chugach State Park. During the climb, you’ll find many safe places to park for Northern Lights viewing. One thing to remember, however, if you want to access one of the pullouts on your Aurora adventure, it’s best to have all-wheel or four-wheel drive.
  • Beluga Point or Potter Valley – head southeast along the Seward Highway toward the tidal flats of the Turnagain Arm fjord for prime aurora viewing. Both locations offer unique views of the Northern Lights, as well as a scenic backdrop of sea, mountains, and sky for those who are intent on photographing the aurora.

What Kind Of Northern Lights Viewing Tours Are Available In Anchorage?

low angle shot of the snowy fir forest treesWhen the Northern Lights are most visible in Alaska, aurora seekers are out in full force. Although many travelers choose to strike out on their own on an aurora adventure, there are also many experienced tour operators in Anchorage who can take you to prime aurora viewing locations when conditions are favorable for an aurora sighting. These tour guides are experts in answering the age-old question of when the aurora borealis is visible in Alaska. Here are a few popular tour options that offer travelers the opportunity to see the Northern Lights in Alaska’s nighttime sky:

  • Photo tours – photographing the aurora can be tricky, especially for a novice photographer. Many tours employ expert photographers who can teach you the tricks you need to know to capture this phenomenon for your memory books. Learn new photography skills on the tour that will enable you to photograph the Northern Lights against the backdrop of mountains, coastal landscapes, and boreal forests when the Northern Lights are most visible in Alaska. Don’t worry – if you’re not a photographer, you’re still welcome to come along with your photographer friends to enjoy the light show.
  • Private multi-day tours – don’t limit your aurora viewing to one night! If you have the time, consider extending your Northern Lights viewing trip to three nights or more. This increases your chances of seeing the aurora borealis exponentially. Tour operators who offer multi-day private tours also organize fun daytime activities for you, as well as plan nighttime trips to locations that are optimal for Northern Lights viewing.
  • Small-group multi-day tours – like private tours, an extended multi-day tour increases your chances of seeing the Northern Lights when the aurora borealis is visible in Alaska. You’ll simply be traveling with a few more people on the tour. Like private tours, your guide will organize fun daytime activities as well as nighttime trips to prime Aurora viewing locations. However, you’ll also have the added bonus of meeting new people and bonding with them over this once-in-a-lifetime activity!

Is Anchorage A Good Place To See The Northern Lights?

Yes! Absolutely – especially during the month of March and around the Spring Equinox. This is when you can see the Northern Lights in Anchorage, Alaska, and when the Northern Lights are most visible in Alaska overall! So, go ahead – make Anchorage your basecamp for all of your aurora-spotting adventures. The city is home to many exciting things to do and see during the day and has many prime viewing locations within walking and driving distance. Don’t forget to check the aurora forecast before you head out for the night, though!

Download all three Alaska tour brochures for tour dates and pricing.